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DeSantis signs bill to ban Chinese citizens from buying land in Florida

 May 9, 2023

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed three bills designed to curb Chinese government influence in the state.

These measures include limiting land ownership by Chinese citizens, banning Chinese-owned social media platforms like TikTok and WeChat on government devices, and further restricting colleges and universities from forming relationships with foreign countries of concern, including China.

In a news release, DeSantis noted that he called on the state legislature last year to intensify efforts against corporate espionage and higher education subterfuge by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its agents, the Hill reported.

The legislation is set to take effect on July 1.

Land Ownership Restrictions

The signed bills, SB 264, SB 846, and SB 258, tackle various aspects of CCP influence in Florida.

SB 264 aims to restrict Chinese citizens from purchasing large amounts of land in Florida. The legislation permits Chinese citizens with nontourist visas to acquire single parcels smaller than 2 acres and located at least 5 miles from military installations.

The legislation also prevents governments, citizens, and businesses from foreign countries of concern from acquiring agricultural land in Florida.

Additionally, it prohibits property sale within 10 miles of military bases, seaports, airports, power plants, and water treatment facilities to interests tied to the Chinese government or other foreign countries of concern, WTVT reported.

Social Media Restrictions

Another bill, SB 258, expands on a September 2022 executive order that instructed the state Department of Management Services to create a list of prohibited social media applications deemed security risks and to block access on state-owned wireless networks.

The bill comes amid a national debate over restricting access to the popular TikTok app for security reasons.

College and University Restrictions

The third bill, SB 846, bans state colleges, universities, and employees from accepting gifts from entities such as colleges based in foreign countries of concern. It also restricts state colleges and universities from entering agreements with counterparts in these countries.

Florida's state university system chancellor Ray Rodrigues praised the new law for "preventing certain countries from being able to exploit the academic freedom that we have here" in Florida.

If a college or university enters an agreement without approval, the State Board of Education or the university system’s Board of Governors could sanction the schools or withhold performance funding, which can sometimes amount to tens of millions of dollars.

DeSantis' International Credentials

DeSantis, who is reportedly preparing for a presidential run in 2024, has been working to build international credentials.

During a bill-signing event in Brooksville, he criticized "elites in our own country" who have favored "short-term profits" with China. The governor emphasized that the new legislation conveys that the Chinese Communist Party is not welcome in the Sunshine State.

Concerns Over Chinese Influence

DeSantis highlighted China's growing economic might, industrial hegemony, and stronger military as reasons for the legislation. He expressed concern over the Chinese leader's intent to expand the Chinese Communist Party's influence globally.

These new bills were passed during the legislative session that ended Friday, targeting foreign countries of concern, such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.